To provide the Audit Committee with an overview of the organisation’s improvement actions following the Ofsted inspection of Career Track between 3rd and 5th November 2021.
The Committee considered a report of the Assistant Director (Partnerships) (report A.2) which provided it with an overview of the organisation’s improvement actions following the Ofsted inspection of Career Track undertaken between 3rd and 5th November 2021.
It was reported that Career Track had had its first full inspection by Ofsted between 3rd and 5th November 2021. Career Track had previously had a successful Ofsted Monitoring Visit (a more ‘light touch’ inspection in June 2019). The full report following the November Inspection had been published on 24th December 2021 and was attached as Appendix A to the Officer report. The findings of the report had graded Career Track as ‘Requiring Improvement’. Although this was a disappointment there had been much that was positive in the report as it had contained a detailed section about things that were being done well and it had been especially complimentary about the dedication and care of the team for the apprentices and about the commitment the apprentices showed towards their learning and development. The emphasis was now on what was needed to make things better.
Members themselves referenced the many positive comments about Career Track set out in the Ofsted report.
The Development Plan, as attached at Appendix B to the Officer report, took each of the five inspection categories in turn and stated what was being planned to address each area. The document identified the key milestones and progress by using a RAG (Red, Amber and Green) system.
The Council’s initial response activity had focussed on setting the foundations and getting them in place. This had involved amending the hours and workload of the Training Assessment Team Leader so that she had been freed up to dedicate time to policy and curriculum development with the introduction of the ‘OneFile’ system. To enable this to happen, a temporary Training Assessment Officer role had been created for 30 hours per week until the end of July 2022. That person had taken over the apprenticeship caseload from the Training Assessment Team leader. More widely, the staffing resource of Career Track was considered sufficient for the numbers of apprentices progressing with the service. Obviously, it would continue to be monitored and, if numbers of apprentices grew, further staffing resource may be required to match the call on the service.
Members were informed that the services of a specialist company known as SDN (Strategic Development Network) were being utilised for their professional help and advice for policy and curriculum development. SDN were supporting Career Track with consultants/professionals who had also worked alongside and trained Ofsted Inspectors.
As previously stated, the service was rolling out the use of ‘OneFile’, a training software package for the administration and management of apprenticeships. OneFile was used by many apprenticeship providers as it supported the learners more effectively and enabled the provider to better monitor and ensure delivery of the curriculum. Effective roll out of that package would play a significant role in addressing the Ofsted concerns regarding curriculum, Safeguarding, Prevent and British Values training.
The Committee was reminded that the contract for this Council (under the name of Career Track) to provide apprenticeship training rested with the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). This Council had an allocated account manager within the ESFA and the Work Based Learning Manager had a monthly meeting with him to discuss actions and progress towards meeting the improvements required by Ofsted. The ESFA account manager had approved the development plan and the steps currently being taken.
The Committee was made aware that a Development Group had been formed to monitor the work and ensure that the targets set against the Ofsted report were being met. The Development Group was chaired by the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Carlo Guglielmi (in his role as Portfolio Holder with the responsibility for Career Track), and the membership of the Group also included the Chief Executive; the Assistant Director (Partnerships); the Internal Audit Manager and the Executive Projects Manager (Governance). The Work Based Learning Manager and Organisational Development Manager reported to this Group. In the next few weeks this Development Group would be converted into a new Governance Board for Career Track. The Committee was advised of proposals to supplement the membership of the proposed Governance Board with representation from local employers and from the apprentices themselves. Members commented on the need to ensure the capacity of Board Members, along with the balance of skills within its membership, was appropriate for the role of the Board.
The Assistant Director (Partnerships) also confirmed that oversight of the Career Track service was provided by the Council’s Human Resources and Council Tax Committee and by Cabinet through reports to them.
RESOLVED that the Audit Committee -
(a) notes the report, the findings of the Ofsted inspection and the success of Career Track over the years; and
(b) endorses the Development Plan and the actions currently being taken.